At Mrs. Puff's Boating School, SpongeBob's class receives an assignment for an 800-word essay on what not to do at a stoplight, due the following morning. SpongeBob can't wait to get started and, upon arriving home, prepares his materials and work space. However, he has trouble thinking of what to write, and seeing all his friends having fun outside proves distracting.
Time passes as SpongeBob tries to create the right mood for writing. He does some calisthenics, feeds Gary, cleans his kitchen, and takes copious breaks in between. It eventually becomes clear that SpongeBob is only looking for excuses to avoid the essay, as Patrick points out when SpongeBob calls to chat with him in the middle of the night.
While spending more time making a sandwich, SpongeBob hears a knock at the door and rushes to greet the mailman delivering a package. When SpongeBob attempts to engage in small talk, the mailman cuts him off and tells him to get back to writing. Suspicious, SpongeBob slowly heads back inside to find the newscaster on TV reporting on SpongeBob’s unfinished essay. He soon discovers that all of his possessions are conspiring against him to prevent the completion of his work. Their interference results in the immolation of his house, which begs SpongeBob as it burns to stop wasting time.
Finally waking up from his nightmare, SpongeBob looks first at his woefully incomplete essay, then at the clock marking five minutes before class time. In desperation, he suddenly realizes that everything he did up to that point was something that shouldn't be done at a stoplight, and so quickly writes it all down to fulfill the 800-word requirement.
Excitedly bringing the finished essay to school, SpongeBob finds the classroom empty. Mrs. Puff arrives and explains that she tried to call SpongeBob to give him an update. Due to a teacher's convention she must attend, she has cancelled the assignment and will instead take the class on a field trip the following week to see a stoplight. Left behind with his grin frozen in place, SpongeBob rips his essay in half before he himself splits in half.
A scene where SpongeBob looks out the window, all his friends are there, and Patrick rubbing Sandy with Sun Lotion then says, "Come on, SpongeBob!"
This was removed due to it looking like Patrick was unhooking Sandy's bikini.
Removed on some airings for unknown reasons.
A scene where a video of a drag race car crashing into a wall is shown.
Removed because Nickelodeon didn't want any young viewers to try racing a car.
All DVDs, 2002-2006 airings, and all airings in other countries show these scenes. After October2006, the scenes were edited out for commercials. All of these scenes are still available on VideoNow disks with this episode in it.
Early airings (Before October 2006, Version #1):
Patrick: Come on, SpongeBob! (SpongeBob goes back to his desk)
SpongeBob: It should be against the law to have to write an essay on such a super sailorific, sunshiny day! Oh! But I must press onward, because with this pencil, and the completion of this essay, I'll be one step closer to my driver's license! (a live-action drag race is shown. a car hits a wall, tumbles and gets back up) Oh, yeah. This'll be no problemo. I've got plenty of time. It's only 6:00 p.m.! Okay, okay here we go. (struggles to write) I know, I've got to get blood pumpin' in the own vessels. How about some calisthenics? (SpongeBob does calisthenics. While doing it, he recites Hup Hoo several times) I can feel those juices pumpin' now!
Some early airings (Before October 2006, Version #2):
Same as above, but SpongeBob exercising was removed.
Reruns (After October 2006):
SpongeBob: Gee, this is harder than I thought... (immediately cuts to him sitting happily in his chair) I can feel those juices pumpin' now! (The rest of the episode goes normally.)
This is the first time SpongeBob's house talks or is set on fire.
A scene similar to this also happens in "Ghost Host," when his house starts burning and roars.
It also happens in "Pet Sitter Pat," when it shows SpongeBob's Pineapple on fire in his thought bubble after Grandma SquarePants mentions being in danger of burning down the house if she was not any older because of all the candles on her cake.
Unlike this, the house never roared.
The music from Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold! series was reused on the scene when SpongeBob looks out the window and see everyone having a good day.
When SpongeBob cleaned his kitchen, it turned chrome similar to how the future world looked in the Season 1 episode "SB-129."
In SpongeBob's kitchen fridge, he has:
Horse of the Sea
A Chinese takeout box
An ice cube tray
Two soda cans
One red, one green
One orange, one purple
One scene from this episode was shown in the R-rated comedy film Ted (2012).
It is unknown how SpongeBob managed to take hours only to write the word "The" on his paper.
Sandy and Squidward are not seen in this episode if you watch the edited version without the deleted scene.
The scene with Patrick in bed and the phone was similar in design to Squidward's 3:00 A.M. joke to Patrick in "Graveyard Shift."
This episode probably took place before "Help Wanted" because SpongeBob went to boating school two days in a row, something never seen in any episode throughout this series. In "No Free Rides" SpongeBob states that he does boating tests on Tuesdays (probably after his work shift) and classes on Sundays when he usually does not have work.
The color for this episode and "I'm with Stupid" is different from any other episode. It appears less bright and more washed out in comparison to the rest of Season 2. This is due to it having been animated by a different studio.
However, on all DVD releases containing the two episodes, the colors are darker to match with the rest of the season.
This episode aired 5 years after Tiny Tim's death.
SpongeBob's writing of the word "The" on the essay is reused in "Sharks vs. Pods" when Sharkface creates the ransom note.
In SpongeBob's nightmare when he runs through a hall, and on the episode's title card background, there are deformed, melted and melting clocks.
This is a reference to The Persistence of Memory art.
Horse Of The Sea Is A Reference To Chicken Of The Sea.
On his essay, SpongeBob misspelled Stoplight as Spotlight.
When SpongeBob says, "I can feel those juices pumpin' now!," the closed captions say "children laughing." This is a leftover of the aforementioned deleted scene.
When SpongeBob is at the sink drinking water, two parts of his black belt turn yellow for a split-second.
Before SpongeBob was locked out of his house, his mouth disappears for a split second as the door slams shut.
When SpongeBob wakes up from his nightmare and looks at the paper before looking at the clock, only the word "The" is shown and "What Not to do at a Spotlight by SpongeBob SquarePants" is missing from the top.
When SpongeBob says "Rye or pumpernickel?," his eyelashes are missing.